People News

Our People: Karam Bhamra.


The joy of immersive visualisation.

When I was growing up…

…I was preoccupied by doing one of three things; drawing and painting; building plastic model kits or messing about with my home computer. Naturally, I went on to study a foundation degree in art and design before completing a BA in visual communication, followed by a Master’s in interior design and technology.

It was at university that I was first introduced to 3D visualisation. The opportunities it presented excited me, as it was basically drawing, painting and model-making with computers – jackpot!

 My first experience with Hoare Lea…

…was during my final year when I developed a concept design for an ‘interactive casino’. I was looking for ideas on how to light the space. What was meant to be a two-week learning placement with our in-house lighting team, turned into three months and then to a full-time position as a graduate lighting designer!

I had never planned to work for an engineering firm or in lighting design, but it was hugely motivating to bring my experience in 3D visualisation to the team – we eventually formed a CGI group and have been developing our capabilities ever since.

While head of the CGI group…

…I managed and oversaw a range of visualisation projects. I recently started a new role as Immersive Experience Lead, focusing on improving Hoare Lea’s immersive capabilities. I hope to explore and identify new tools and technologies that will further enhance our working processes and understanding on projects through immersive visualisation.

I’m excited about…

…how much more prevalent real-time 3D and immersive visualisation will become throughout the design process – something which I feel will be inescapable.

These technologies have developed rapidly in industries such as film, gaming and automotive, so the construction industry has some exciting catch up to do!

We know that 83% of the information our brain processes to make sense of the world around us is delivered through our eyes, which is easily more than all the other senses combined. People simply understand complicated things (like designing buildings) better when they can ‘visually experience’ them.

This will all come naturally for the next generation. Seven-year-olds are already designing buildings and infrastructure on games such as Minecraft, using immersive design tools will be second nature to them, and with this evolution we’ll see more reliable and faster decision making, with fewer costly errors and misunderstanding or misinterpretation during the design process.

I see a future where we design proposals in real-time with project teams, remotely immersed in the same virtual model, reviewing, making decisions, testing options all at 1:1 scale. The entire design process completed in the 3D digital environment – no 2D drawings required!

My most memorable project…

…was working with the renowned installation artist Wolfgang Buttress on a multi-sensory VR experience for an artwork proposal called SEED.

We created a virtual walkthrough to present how his design for the installation would look using VR headsets to stakeholders. Viewers could move through the proposed garden site and sculpture whilst also experiencing the soundscape and lighting scenarios. We even used fragrance diffusers to recreate the meadow smell.

It was a powerful experience to see, hear and smell the installation before it even existed.

Outside of work I enjoy…

…spending time with my two young boys, aged nine and seven, who keep me and my wife busy. We’re into weekend walks, bike rides and football. At home I enjoy finding new exotic recipes to try, and when I get time to myself, I’ve always got some DIY or gardening projects on the go. I like to bust out the model kits occasionally too.

During lockdown, I’ve been studying the art and techniques of card magic – eat your heart out David Blaine!